Monday, August 4, 2014

Backyard Harvesting and Preserving

What a weekend!  It was wonderful and scary and productive...all at the same time!  

We had rain and quite a bit of it.  That was wonderful!  We need it so badly and we'll take every drop we can get.  It's rare here and we savored the storms...opening windows, watching and listening to it fall, and breathing in that wonderful rain smell.  Ahhhhh!  My daughter and I enjoyed a little antique shopping on Saturday morning with the cloudy and cooler weather.  We even went for a walk in the rain with our dog yesterday.  And, late last night the rain poured hard...enough to wake us.  It was wonderful!  There are a few clouds in the sky today but I think the rain is over...for now.

The scary part of the weekend happened mid-day on Saturday.  Hubby had gone for a long bike ride.  It's something he does almost every weekend.  And, luckily it's often with a group.  Extra lucky this time!  I got a call from him around noon letting me know that he'd crashed and wouldn't be able to drive home.  Someone was giving him a ride to the bike shop and my daughter and I needed to meet him there to pick him up and drive his car home.  The pain was so bad that I needed to take him to an urgent care.  It turned out that a rib under his collar bone was broken and some cartilage next to his sternum was banged up.  It even hurt him to breathe!  The doc gave him a brace to hold his shoulders back.  That helps with the pain and will help the bone to heal in the right position.  The pain meds are working but he's needing to take it really easy until those stabbing/piercing/burning pains stop happening when he moves.  I'm taking good care of him!

While he was resting in the recliner on Sunday morning, I went out in the backyard to enjoy the cooler and moist air from the storms.  It turned out that a lot more figs had ripened.  I started picking them and ended up with a big bowl full.  There's still a bunch more on the tree that are green.  
The colors are incredible!

I quickly got to work preparing them for the dehydrator.  And, this time, I remembered to take some photos.  I used the same technique of dropping them into boiling water.  It weakens the skin to allow moisture to escape easier during dehydration.  Look how dark the water got...

After just 30 seconds, I scooped them out and dropped them into an ice bath.
It's interesting how the blanching turned parts of them green.

My daughter helped me slice them.
They were so pretty that I posted a pic on Instagram...

 My daughter suggested slicing them into quarters instead of halves.  She thought they might dry better and be easier to eat.  She was right!  They're already done and so delicious!  Some are sweet like brown sugar!  And, I love that delicate crispy, crunch of the little seeds.  Yum!

My Basil plants were big and lush...perfect for harvesting!  So, I cut a bowl full of basil to process into freezer cubes to use throughout the winter.  I try to do this several times every summer and it works great!  This year, besides the standard, green Basil, I also have a variety now with purple leaves.  It has a slightly different flavor but still has the delicious basil taste that I love.  Bugs seem to bother it less too.  It had very few munched leaves compared to the green plants that I have.

I picked off all of the good leaves and rinsed them in cold water.
The colors of the leaves floating in the water were so pretty that I had to take a picture...

After rinsing, I spun the leaves dry in a salad spinner and chopped them up in the food processor with olive oil (I did the green ones and purple ones separately...just because).  I put spoonfuls of it into the compartments of an ice tray.  It's amazing how little there is after it's chopped.  I almost filled a whole ice tray this time though.

I always like to put the tray into a plastic bag and tightly close the end.  That keeps the freezer from smelling like Basil and keeps the basil from smelling like freezer.  After they're frozen, I place them into a Rubbermaid container and keep them in the freezer for convenient use.  It works great in sauces and dressings.  And, best of all, even in the middle of winter, it tastes like I just picked it.

Since I'm sharing photos of food I preserved this's a picture of some refrigerator pickled cauliflower that I made last week.  It should be ready to eat by now.  I think I'll have some for lunch!  I made it in one of my new, green, Ball canning jars.  I love how they're making them in colors now!

It's kind of amazing how much food I'm getting from our yard.  Especially since our garden isn't going so well.  It's so satisfying to eat food that we grew and know exactly what's in it and what's not.

Time for lunch!  :-)


Amy at love made my home said...

I hope that your husband is fully recovered soon and that his bike can be repaired. Your dried figs look delicious! xx

judith said...

So sorry about your hubby! I'd forgotten about the purple basil being bug resistant. My 2nd crop of basil is just now starting to come in.

Delighted Hands said...

Sorry for your husband's fall! The preserves look great-you've captured Summer!

mamasmercantile said...

Hope your husband is on the mend soon. Some great preserves, such a great idea to freeze basil. I am going to freeze some later today.

Mereknits said...

Oh no your poor husband, glad it wasn't worse. Hope he heals quickly.

Susan said...

So much going on! I am so glad your husband was with a group - and that he is on the mend. And rain! Hooray! How I envy you your beautiful figs...

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Yikes. Sorry to hear about your hubby. When we saw guys on bikes whizzing down from the top of Pikes Peak, I thought how scary it would be if they had an accident as they were going at really high speed downhill. Glad your husband's injury wasn't worse. I love figs -- fresh and dried. And the cauliflower pickles sound delicious! Best wishes, Tammy

Vicki Boster said...

Oh dear--I hope your husband is doing well after his accident-- things like that happen so quickly.

Beautiful figs-- there's nothing better! I love your idea to store your herbs in an ice cube tray-- that's genius!!

Debbie said...

Glad to hear that your husband is recovering.
The figs look so good. I like your idea for drying them.

Quinn said...

Your husband has my sympathy - broken ribs are SO painful. Don't make him laugh for at least a couple of weeks, and then only low chuckling for a few weeks more!
Your fig pictures and descriptions are making me think there might be a way I would enjoy figs. If I had a local supply like you do, I would be drying some right now :)